SMU President R. Gerald Turner has written a clarification memo in response to recent media reports on the University’s ongoing review of finances and resources – commonly known as Project SMU: Operational Excellence for the Second Century (OE2C).
The full text of the memo, posted at SMU’s OE2C site on Monday, Dec. 8, 2014:
Dear SMU alumni, parents and friends,
Because recent media stories have reported SMU’s financial review for resource reallocation with a negative interpretation, we want to communicate directly with you on this matter.
Our review process aims to redirect resources to our academic mission. The majority of the reported $35 million saved will be reallocated to academic purposes. At a time when universities across the country are being questioned about the impact of administrative costs on affordability, SMU is taking the lead in examining operations, procedures and positions that can be streamlined. Elimination of some positions will be one result, and SMU is committed to working with any affected employees in a sensitive and caring way, consistent with our long-held SMU community values. A restructuring also could result in some new positions in high-priority areas, and staff can apply for these opportunities.
In addition, it is erroneous to associate SMU’s review with the opening of the George W. Bush Presidential Center. Although SMU had one-time costs for University-related events during the opening, these activities brought more than 10,000 visitors, dignitaries and five U.S. presidents to SMU and Dallas – visibility that is priceless. The Bush Library is funded by the federal government, while the Bush Institute is funded by donations to the private Bush Foundation. SMU is benefiting greatly from these resources. As noted by Moody’s in its latest rating analysis, expenditures to expand national prominence “will enhance the competitive draw of the University” going forward. Moody’s also noted SMU’s stable outlook with regard to enrollment, philanthropic support and positive operating performance. SMU’s admission applications are indeed growing every year, as is the academic quality of our students.
As you know, the $1 billion Second Century campaign is funding new faculty positions, academic programs, scholarships and facilities. Campaign gifts, however, are restricted for specific purposes and do not cover annual operating expenses. Thus, we must look at our structure and operations to see where savings can occur – to be redirected to our academic mission.
SMU’s financial stability also is reflected in its endowment growth of more than 17 percent in the last year, above the national average, for an endowment of over $1.5 billion as of November 30.
It is a sign of strength that SMU is undertaking a financial review. We want to remain responsible stewards of our resources and the investments that generous donors are making toward our progress. Our constituents – in Dallas and beyond – deserve no less.
Thank you for your ongoing support.
R. Gerald Turner